Archive for the ‘True Crime’ Category

The NYT Genre Round-Up

Monday, October 31st, 2016

Eighteen genre novels get featured in a series of three new overviews in this week’s NYT book section.

9780393292329_f9284The novelist Charles Finch takes on thrillers, casting a critical eye over some of the offerings but deeply enjoying The Fall Guy, James Lasdun (Norton; OverDrive Sample), about two men caught up in a competition over a woman, one of whom is destined to fulfill the title.

Finch calls it “exceptionally entertaining … a cross of literary fiction, thriller and mystery” that reads like “early Ian McEwan or late Patricia Highsmith.”

He says that Lasdun cleverly crafts the story, “His clues never seem like clues until they bind tightly around one of the three leads” and that the novel is “exactly what a literary thriller should be: intelligent, careful, swift, unsettling.”

It is also a November Indie Next pick.

tf_cover_sm-400x600Reviewing six Horror titles, film critic Terrence Rafferty (who wrote a piece on Thrillers featuring killer women in June) very much likes  the small press offering The Fisherman by John Langan (Word Horde), the story of two grief-burdened fisherman who cast their lines in possibly magical waters.

He calls it “superb” and says that Langan “manages to sustain the focused effect of a short story or a poem over the course of a long horror narrative.”

Rafferty continues that the novel is “unusually dense with ideas and images” and full of “elegant prose.” In the end, he says, readers feel a “sad urgency on every page” of this “strange and terrifying” tale.

9781681772400_77f74In her largely non-committal survey of six True-Crime offerings, Marilyn Stasio picks The Thieves of Threadneedle Street: The Incredible True Story of the American Forgers Who Nearly Broke the Bank of England (Norton/ Pegasus; OverDrive Sample), Nicholas Booth as a good bet.

It is the tale of a masterful 19th century forgery case that Stasio calls a “jaunty caper” led by a man who was no stranger to international long cons.

AMERICAN HEIRESS On The Rise

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

9780385536714_ed035Jeffrey Toobin wrote the definitive book about one of the highest profile crime of the 1990’s, The Run of His Life, about O. J. Simpson. The popularity of two recent TV series on the case, one of which is based on that book, demonstrate there is a strong interest in revisiting such stories.

Going back even further in his latest book, Toobin takes a new look at the story of the 1974 kidnapping and arrest of Patty Hearst: American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst, (PRH/Doubleday; OverDrive Sample).

Following in the footsteps of Toobin’s O.J. title, Deadline Hollywood reports film rights were acquired prior to publication.

Libraries ordered the book modestly and holds are growing as a result of media attention. In an almost hour long conversation on NPR’s Fresh Air, Toobin talks to an enthralled Terry Gross about the case.

Hearst was the 19-year-old granddaughter of the famous newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst and while her case was a sensation at the time, Toobin found that nothing new had been written about the case in decades and decided to investigate it again.

Placing the story in its time, Toobin calls the period a “toxic, dangerous, scary time in America. … During the early and mid ’70s, there were 1,000 — 1,000!— bombings a year in the United States … [due to] a violent political culture.”

In this environment “the Symbionese Liberation Army, a small, armed revolutionary group with an incoherent ideology and unclear goals” kidnapped Hearst – at a point in her life where she was at “a particularly vulnerable and restless moment in her life … uniquely receptive to new influences.”

Against the standard story line that Hearst was brainwashed or suffering from Stockholm syndrome, Toobin argues that she “responded rationally to the circumstances she was confronted with at each stage of the process” and joined her kidnappers in their crimes.

Under her own power, says Toobin, she committed real harm, “She robbed three banks. She shot up a street in Los Angeles. She helped plant bombs in several places in northern California.”

Toobin says she “had multiple opportunities to escape over a year and a half. She went to the hospital for poison oak and she could’ve told the doctor, ‘Oh by the way, I’m Patty Hearst.’ She was caught in an inaccessible place while hiking and the forest rangers helped her out, and she could’ve said, ‘Oh by the way, I’m Patty Hearst.’ She didn’t escape because she didn’t want to escape.”

She was eventually captured and sent to prison for 7 years, but only served 22 months before President Jimmy Carter commuted her sentence. President Bill Clinton pardoned her years later. Toobin calls both actions “the purest example of privilege on display that frankly I have ever seen in the criminal justice system.”

In her advanced NYT review, Janet Maslin writes, “As Mr. Toobin sees it, Patty — now Patricia again — was always an adroit opportunist, never a deep thinker, and remained an artful pragmatist under any circumstances.”

The Washington Post calls it “terrific” and “riveting” book, a “lurid crime story with its own toxic mix of race, class, celebrity and sex.”

CBS This Morning featured Toobin yesterday.

Order Alert: For Fans of SERIAL

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

9781250087102_f6366The many fans of the podcast SERIAL may not have realized they owe thanks to Rabia Chaudry, a woman who has worked tirelessly to free her friend Adnan Sayed from prison. Believing he was wrongly accused of murdering his high school girlfriend, Chandry approached Sarah Koenig of This American Life in hopes of bringing more attention to the case. The result was the podcast, which became a huge success.

SERIAL did not arrive at a definitive conclusion on Sayed’s innocence or guilt. He is still imprisoned and Chaudry has not given up. She will publish a book  in September, Adnan’s Story: Murder, Justice, and The Case That Captivated a Nation (St. Martin’s Press). Entertainment Weekly reports  it is being written with Syed’s cooperation, quoting him from a press release, “As someone connected to me, my family, my community, my lawyers, and my investigation, there is no one better to help tell my story, and no one that I trust more to tell it, than Rabia.”

Available for pre-sale now on Amazon, it is already #17 in the True Crime Biography category.